What do we do?
We help thousands of women in Uganda to start or expand small businesses. The women are micro-entrepreneurs: they want to start a two acre farm, open a little shop, invest in fertilizers, buy a cow or a few pigs - over the years we have seen hundreds and hundreds of different business ideas. We help the women by giving them a small loan - a microcredit - which they repay in weekly installments over the course of a year. The women borrow in groups of five, with individual business plans but responsible for each other's repayments.
The women we help are the 'extreme poor', typically living on less than $2.50 a day. Still, they know exactly what they want and how to help their family; they just need a little starting capital to do so.
We have now given out over 18,000 loans, at over 95% repayment. SYPO works in remote areas with low population density, where it's too expensive for other microfinance organizations to provide financial services. SYPO keeps its cost base low with an innovative organization design and use of mobile technology. All operational costs are covered by interest paid on the microcredits, which ensures long term viability of the project. It also ensures that we can use 100% of your donation to help the women; none is used for costs of the organization.
SYPO aims to be innovative, transparent and self-critical. We do frequent impact assessments (see below) and actively share findings with other organizations. That way we hope that this project contributes to solving the wider challenge of offering critical financial services to the poor.
What makes us different?
These are some principles we stick to:
- Prioritized - helping the extreme poor of rural Uganda, who are truly stuck in a poverty trap.
- Transparent - enabling you to choose exactly which individual micro-entrepeneur you want to sponsor and keeping you informed of the impact of your donation.
- Efficient - using 100% of your donation to help the women, and recycling your donation after every microcredit repayment.
- Innovative - developing new organization models and using technology to work where others cannot.
- Non-patronizing - supporting the women to develop their own potential with simple financial services, without telling them what to do.
Who are we?
SYPO is a non-profit organization based in the Netherlands and in the United States. It was started in 2003 by Duko Hopman, after a backpacking trip through East Africa. Duko was struck not only by the desperate poverty of rural Africa, but also by the enormous potential. It seemed the main reason why people were poor was that they were poor the day before; stuck in a trap with nothing to invest in growth. He started SYPO in the Netherlands to fund entrepreneurial aid projects in Uganda. The first was a small dairy cooperative, giving cows to women who had adopted HIV orphans in their families but did not have enough money to care for them. The cooperative started a small yoghurt factory that created a constant demand for the milk. It grew to over 150 cows; 200 orphans received a stable home.
Over time, SYPO started focusing on microfinance, giving tiny business loans to women with business ideas. We see microfinance as a strong answer to the world's most pressing problem: that of extreme poverty. It is efficient, because every loan is repaid and can be used again to help someone else. It starts people on a growth path while maintaining their dignity - they repay the microcredits with interest and never feel like they are accepting handouts. If you donate to SYPO, your every dollar is used again and again to help the poorest of the poor, in a way that takes their own potential seriously.
To develop the microfinance project, the Dutch NGO 'Stichting SYPO' started (and owns) the company "SYPO Uganda Ltd." in Uganda. This company employs a team of young, highly talented and motivated Ugandans who run the daily microfinance operations. Each of the employees is responsible for her own zone, and works in the field to register microcredit applications, train borrowers, conduct business visits, collect repayments, make financial reports, etc. Outside of Uganda we work only with volunteers: the Directors (Duko Hopman and Emma Kandelaars) and Board of SYPO (chaired by Ger van der Bruggen), and volunteers helping with our fundraising. In 2017, SYPO U.S. INC. was started as a fundraising arm in the United States.
For a full overview of our team see here.
Where do we work?
SYPO works in the districts Mukono and Buikwe in Central Uganda, bordering Lake Victoria, the world's largest tropical lake. It's a primarily agricultural region, growing coffee, vanilla, bananas, and other crops. SYPO originally started in this area, and it's the region we know best. We grow in small 'zones'; typically a village in the middle and a few smaller villages and farm areas around it. Each zones supports up to 1,000 micro-entrepreneurs. The demand for more microcredits is still overwhelming; we need your help and donations to reach thousands more women and help them start their businesses. See the graphic below for our growth plans.
How are we financed?
Although we cover all the operational costs of the project through interest paid on the microcredits, we depend on your donations to grow to new areas and reach more women in Uganda. SYPO is supported by hundreds of individuals through this website, and by several institutional donors. You can read more about our corporate sponsors on this page. Our main institutional partner is Wilde Ganzen, a Dutch development agency with tons of experience working around the globe to support entrepreneurial, grassroot projects with both financial support and expertise. It's the perfect partner for SYPO - we both believe in investing in the potential of local people to fight poverty.
SYPO receives financing from The Missing Middle, an organization aimed at ensuring that successful microcredit participants have access to larger loans and further expand their businesses.
Another partner to call out is the Canadian Philo Project. They design and make fantastic handbags, and donate a percentage of each sale to SYPO.
The reason why we started this website is that we need your support. We want to show you the potential of microfinance in the most direct and transparent way: by asking you to choose individual micro-entrepreneurs to sponsor, follow their progress over time, and reinvest their repayments in other micro-entrepreneurs. Thousands more women are in need of this support, and SYPO depends entirely on your support through this website to reach those women.
documents and links
- Why microfinance works
- How we reach the poor in remote areas
- Fun options for your company to sponsor entrepreneurs in Uganda
- Microfinance starter package for your organization
- Interviews with SYPO's borrowers
- Huffington Post article on SYPO's organization model
- One World article
General microfinance articles
- CGAP article on impact of microfinance
- CGAP article on interest rates in microfinance
- MFTransparency Uganda country profile page
- MixMarket microfinance data